New Hanover County’s new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) will provide the community with a combined set of zoning, subdivision, stormwater, flood, and erosion control regulations in a single document. The creation of the combined UDO is not a new way to regulate development, but a better way to organize documents for the many developers, site designers, reviewers, residents, and decision-makers who use them. The combination of the county’s multiple sets of regulations in one document ensures that the rules of development in the county are easy to access, work in tandem with one another, and provide for the kind of development anticipated in the county’s adopted plans.

Zoning regulations are rules and standards adopted by the New Hanover County Board of County Commissioners that establish the basic, common requirements for property development on an individual lot. Zoning regulations establish the different types of development districts in the county, such as residential, commercial or industrial, and identify appropriate standards for lot size, building placement, height of structures, and uses in those districts. Zoning regulations typically include standards for the basic design of features such as parking lots, landscaping, parks and open spaces, commercial lighting, and rural character conservation.

View the county’s current zoning regulations »

Subdivision regulations are rules and standards adopted by the New Hanover County Board of County Commissioners that establish how land is divided into lots for development. Subdivision regulations also identify the county’s requirements for appropriate public infrastructure within the subdivision, such as access and streets, lot layout, utilities, water supply, and stormwater drainage.

View the county’s current subdivision regulations »

In addition to combining the county’s land development regulations into a single document, the creation of the New Hanover County UDO is a project that is designed to modernize the regulations and provide local standards for future development in the county. The Board of Commissioners recently adopted the county’s first Comprehensive Plan (Plan NHC), which outlines a vision for how the county will grow over the next 25 years. However, the current zoning and subdivision regulations are becoming outdated in sections and may not serve as the most effective tool for development in many parts of the county. In addition, the current stormwater regulations can be improved to better address anticipated stormwater issues.

The UDO project gives New Hanover County residents an opportunity to provide their input into the standards that will work in conjunction with the Comprehensive Plan to guide the next twenty plus years of growth in the county.

There will be specific instructions in the UDO and an administrative manual addressing the transition between the old and new regulations. This section will identify how to proceed with pending applications, recent approvals, and properties with outstanding violations when the new regulations take effect.

The project is currently in its third and final phase, which is comprised of a series of targeted amendments to address community concerns (i.e., new development close to existing homes and protection of trees) and to continue modernizing the code (i.e., adding new uses and private street design options).

Stakeholders can provide feedback on amendment concepts, provide input on amendment topic areas, comment on draft language, and present concerns during public hearings.  Staff is also available for presentations and focus group-style work sessions with stakeholder groups.  Additional public workshops may be held if needed.

If you would like to receive project notifications, please sign up for county’s eNews subscription or sign up through any of the “Sign Up for Updates” boxes on this website.

Additionally, visit this website frequently for project updates, to provide comments, or to submit questions.

The New Hanover County Planning and Land Use Department staff is managing the project. You can reach Rebekah Roth, Senior Planner at 910-798-7465 or by email at rroth@nhcgov.com.


Please complete the Contact Us form and a Planning and Land Use staff member will contact you.

Planning and Land Use: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
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